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Is the newest cool kid on the block … Microsoft?

Molly Wood Apr 20, 2012

Is the newest cool kid on the block … Microsoft?

Molly Wood Apr 20, 2012

The first edition of the Windows operating system came out in 1985. But if Radiohead, formed the same year, can still be cool in 2012, maybe there’s hope for Microsoft’s classic operating system to have some credibility and future as the world moves into what’s often called “the post-PC era.”

The Windows Phone platform is still a distant also-ran to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android system but it may have a little life in it yet. Microsoft’s quarterly earnings beat expectations and Verizon announced that it has faith in the Windows Phone platform and will put some muscle behind marketing it in the months ahead. A big ad campaign for the Nokia 900 is underway and sales figures in for that phone, which runs on Windows Phone, are said to be pretty good in the United States (although kind of mixed everywhere else).

So welcome to the smartphone party, Microsoft, but what took you so long to get here? Jay Greene covers Microsoft for CNET and says the company always tries to be the tortoise, not the hare. “Microsoft has always been a fast follower, and that’s the way it’s been successful over the years,” he says. “But, I also think it’s a culture that it just hasn’t been the way it’s approached its business. It’s always wanted to make sure that it has answers to the size of the market and what can be achieved before it dives into those markets, and that’s great in some senses, but it also means you don’t tend to be innovative and jump out ahead of the curve.”

The design of the Windows Phone has gotten a lot of good reviews. And there are signs that the next version of desktop Windows, Windows 8, will look more like the phone. Joe Wilcox, managing editor of Beta News, says it’s a good model to follow. He says, “Part of it is about the design of the software, which is just so different. You look at Windows phone, it just feels modern compared to Android or Apple’s iOS — it’s fresh, it’s fluid, it’s different.”

So Verizon likes the phone, critics like the phone, but will anybody BUY the phone? Part of what you get with, say, an iPhone, is a personal association with a cool brand like Apple. And Microsoft isn’t as cool as Apple. Jay Greene says Windows Phone could succeed without the coolness. “If Microsoft is trying to outcool Apple, it’s going to lose,” Greene says. “For Microsoft to be successful, it’s got to go after a slightly different market. It really has to go after the market that is falling away from the folks that make BlackBerry, and it’s got to go after the market that’s currently buying Android phones, because I don’t think they love that operating system.”

Also in this program, another edition of our non-award-winning Tech Report Theater. The phenomenally popular game “Draw Something” has added new social features, letting users tweet their doodles and post them to Facebook. You can also make comments in the app for your opponent to see. Our play features a dialog between a dedicated “Draw Something” player and “The Real World.”

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